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Dancer Tara Lee 

Now in her 11th season dancing with the Atlanta Ballet, Tara Lee will perform the title role in the Atlanta Ballet's production of Madame Butterfly, playing Feb. 9-18 at the Fox Theatre. For details, call 404-892-3303 or visit www.atlantaballet.com.

What first drew you to ballet?

My mom coaxed me into it because I was an extremely shy little girl. ... I was so shy, I didn't come out of the dressing room the first day. ... [Since then,] I think I've learned to condition myself so as not to be, so I come off sometimes as kind of obnoxious, I think.

What do you do to stay healthy and prevent injuries?

I think it's just the whole way you take care of your body in general. All the basic stuff: trying to eat healthy, trying to get enough sleep, trying to keep your mind centered and focused. It's so much of a mind game, this dancing. ... When you get older, you realize you need to work intelligently, not just hard.

Have you performed Butterfly before? Where do you find inspiration to perform the classic repertoire?

Yeah, I think it was 2002 when our company premiered it. ... The story and the music are so compelling. ... The first time, I was so overwhelmed. It was one of my huger roles, and I was a younger dancer. Now I can relax a little bit more and tell the story more than worrying about the movement. The story's so tragic and the music's so gorgeous that it sweeps you away no matter what.

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